What’s New in Cruise This Spring

Several cruise lines unveiled updates about new ships this spring. Oceania Cruises took delivery of its new 1,200-passenger Vista, which was christened on May 8, 2023 in Malta. Small-ship Emerald Cruises “floated out” its second, oceangoing luxury yacht, Emerald Sakara, which will debut this summer. Also, Viking has taken delivery of its newest, 930-passenger ocean ship, Viking Saturn, which will be named in New York City in June.

Albatross Expeditions reports that its new Ocean Albatros is heading to the Arctic, where the ship will begin cruising in late June. Within a one-week period, American Cruise Lines has christened two ships, the new American Serenade, (now sailing the Mississippi River) and American Jazz (repositioned to the Columbia/Snake Rivers).

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), parent of Oceania, Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, reported financial results for the first quarter 2023. Those included total revenue of $1.8 billion and a GAAP net loss of $159.3 million, an improvement from the same quarter last year. On the heels of a very strong Wave season, NCLH said in its financial press release that it “continues to experience strong consumer demand. Cumulative booked position for the remainder of 2023 is ahead of 2019 levels inclusive of the company’s approximately 18 percent increase in capacity, at continued higher pricing.”

New Itineraries

New voyages to the Amazon and Patagonia are among Atlas Ocean Voyages’ newly unveiled summer and fall 2024 itineraries. Also, the line plans a return to Egypt and Israel.

Lengthier voyages also continue to draw consumers eagerly making up for lost time in seeing the world. Seabourn has unveiled a unique 90-day “Grand Africa Voyage” around the continent on November 30, 2024. In addition, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has added six new Grand Voyages for 2025-2026.

Meanwhile, Crystal has announced the return of shipboard leaders as the brand continues to prepare for its inaugural season under new ownership. Cruise veterans Rick Spath will bring out Crystal Serenity when it returns to service on July 31 and Russ Grieve will lead the team aboard Crystal Symphony starting with its inaugural voyage on September 1. Raphael Derkson will also be returning, first to serve as the start-up musical director for Crystal Serenity and then take over as cruise director following Spath.

Celestyal has added to its sales and marketing team (now comprising 12 executives—the most in the company’s history). Recent hires include Richard Sandoval, business development manager, west coast in California; Stephanie McDonald, business development manager, Canada; and Morgan Hatfield, marketing executive, North America, based in Virginia. Sandoval and McDonald will expand the company’s visibility in Canada and Western U.S. Responsibilities will include developing strong relationships with key travel advisors.

Port Canaveral News

Last year, central Florida’s Port Canaveral became the world’s largest cruise port by multi-day passenger volume—with 4,072,396 such passengers versus PortMiami’s 4,022,544. This past month, the port further updated its 2023 multi-day passenger projections to 6.4 million, according to Seatrade Cruise News. Plus, the port has allocated $175 million to build a new cruise terminal capable of handling the world’s next-generation, largest ships, and it will also significantly increase parking for cruisers. The port attracts a hefty amount of drive-market travelers from the southeastern U.S.

One new Port Canaveral sailing option is MSC Seaside, now homeporting at Port Canaveral through November 2023. It replaces MSC Meraviglia, which now sails from New York City, the newest U.S. homeport for MSC Cruises.

Sustainability and Poker

River lines are stepping up their eco-efforts. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is expanding onboard sustainable culinary efforts, while AmaWaterways said that it’s exploring new ways of enhancing sustainability.

Virgin Voyages has a partnership with the World Poker Tour (WPT) to deliver a poker experience during every sailing aboard Scarlet Lady’s four- and five-night cruises from PortMiami. A new WPT at Sea poker room will be staffed with professional dealers and offer eight custom poker tables.

Shipyard or technical reasons have caused a few cancelations during the past few weeks. That included two voyages of Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2. Separately, small-ship operator Vantage Deluxe World Travel issued an online website statement about its operations and said that it’s been the target of an April 20 ransomware attack, which caused several voyages to be canceled and its homepage to go offline.

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